June 6, 2003Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations for the PGA of America.
JULIUS MASON: Comment about your day today.
GIL MORGAN: Well, as usual, I mean playing with (Gary) McCord and (John) Jacobs is always exciting for starters. They both play at a pretty high level. So it was fun playing with them. I think we had maybe a little bit of an advantage except from the wind standpoint playing in the afternoon, had a chance to dry up a little bit, ball still wasn't rolling very much in the fairways but at the same time it probably played -- we didn't have a chance to get as much mud and stuff on our ball as we did yesterday or probably early this morning.
Overall, I played pretty well, I guess. I can't be too disappointed in my play today. I kept the ball in play pretty much and so I think that's the key here as most everybody probably have told you if you get it in the rough you are in serious trouble. But I made a couple of bogeys and was able to make some birdies and just played real kind of conservative, not too aggressive at times, and unless I felt like I had the right club or I had the right situation where I could hit the ball at the hole. All and all I was pretty well pleased. I made one little boo-boo, bobble, I should say, at the 9th hole I missed about a 3-footer for par after making a pretty good chip. I hit the ball over the green and got the ball where I thought was pretty good shape and was able to -- thought I could at least make a -- salvage a par out of it but at the same time I spun it out and made bogey there. Other than that I felt I played pretty decent all day.
JULIUS MASON: Birdies and bogeys.
GIL MORGAN: 11th hole I was able to hit the ball about, I don't know, hit it obviously off the tee in play, then I hit a 9-iron about six inches, made that one. After lining it up a couple of times.
Then I birdied the 16th hole, I hit driver 3-wood up pretty close and chipped. I didn't make a very great chip, but I hit it in there about 20 feet short of the hole which ball kind of just checked up on me a little bit but I was able to make that putt.
The 18th hole I hit driver and then I hit an 8-iron from 148. The ball carried over the green which I had about 6 steps behind the hole, five or six steps behind the hole and then I chipped it down there. I missed that little putt from about three feet.
Went to the front side and then on two I hit 3-wood off the tee; then I hit an 8-iron in there. It was a pretty long putt. Probably about 40 feet, kind of curled around, made that one. At the 3rd hole 3-wood off the tee -- yesterday I hit it in the bunker and plugged it in the lip. I decided I was going to hit 3-wood today. It bounced down there and just short in the heavy grass short of the bunker; tried to hit 7-wood out of there kind of standing in the bunker caught the lip coming out and then I hit a pitching wedge up there about 10 feet; missed that one so that was my bogey there.
At 5 I hit 5-iron about four feet left of the hole, made that. At 6 I hit driver and then I hit pitching wedge and landed just past the hole from about 115 yards and kind of hit the lip and spun out went by about four feet, backed up about four feet, made that one. And then at 17 I hit the ball over the green with a 4-iron down in that little swell, fairway height and I kind of made a bad chip, tried to chip-and-run it with a 4-iron. Left it about eight feet, eight, 10 feet short, made that putt kind of down the hill which was kind of a real key putt at that point in time. Last hole I hit driver in the light rough on the right then I hit 5-wood from about 210 to the front. I hit 5-wood up on the green about probably two or three, 4 steps on the green and from about 30 feet I putted the ball by about three feet; made that one coming back for birdie.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. John said playing with him and McCord brought you out of your shell. Did you feel that and how long did it take before you feel like well, these guys are not going to shut-up I might as well join in?
GIL MORGAN: They are pretty exciting. Yesterday Mac -- on 17 -- and JJ had a fourth birdie. Mac was over there putting on the fringe and hey, could you please get out of the way I am trying to putt mere. That type of deal. So it always -- they are kind of boisterous and they are good friends, so they do a lot together. I was kind of the odd man out most of the time because they were kind of hanging out together. But you know, you just have to play your own game basically and just try to -- JJ and I were driving -- obviously he's a little bit longer than I am, but we would hit a lot of the same clubs especially off the tee. We go about the same distance at times 'til he decided to hit one by you, it's -- he's pretty long. It's good of those -- everybody was playing about the same club, Mac was in that same -- you can kind of watch and get a feel. From that standpoint, it was okay.
Q. How many times did you use like a 3-wood instead of a driver and how many fairways did you hit today?
GIL MORGAN: Tough questions. I missed three fairways today the way I got it. I don't know. It may be different than that. I hit 3-wood probably about three times-- hit it on two, and the little hole, 13, and then I hit it on 12 and 13 I hit it there. Probably about four times, I guess during the day. Then I hit driver most of the rest of the time.
Q. Is that just to make sure you'd hit it in the fairway?
GIL MORGAN: What you are trying to do you are trying to put it in a certain area where you have got the most room is what I am looking at. On 3 I hit 3-wood. I must have hit it about five times and it actually went too far. I had about 270 to that bunker, kind of surprised me it went that far. JJ hit driver and blew it 30 yards over the bunker in the middle of the fairway. I may have picked the wrong club. Yesterday I hit driver on that hole and it plugged in the lip, so I don't know whether it is just conditions or what, but most of the time you are trying to get the ball in play so that you have got a chance.
Some of those holes are not as long too, wasn't as long, and 3 would have been a long hole but I was just trying to play safe. I think the golf course the way the bunkers encroach upon the fairway and places -- kind of moves the fairways around a little bit so you have -- to try to fit it in those slots, you have got to either curve the ball or knock it over something that's -- that you can't see. Can't see the landing area at times. Like 10 is kind of the same way down on the right.
There's a lot of those holes - I guess that's a Donald Ross trait, I don't know, but the main purpose is just try to get the ball in play. Because you can't play out the rough. Especially right next to the edge of the rough it's so deep you can't hit it 30, 40 yards if it's sitting room. Usually if you get further away a little bit sometimes you even have a better chance either the gallery has walked it down a little bit or it underneath the trees a little bit didn't get as much light and probably didn't get as much fertilization so it's not nearly as treacherous as right there, right there next to the first -- first mowing width is probably the most difficult part.
Q. Two 66s in a day including your own tying a course record. Did the course play a lot easier today?
GIL MORGAN: Well, I think it did. I didn't play very well yesterday. Yesterday I thought it played easier than the practice rounds because -- I played on Tuesday. Didn't get to play all the holes. I only played nine holes, then I played 10, 17, 18 and my practice round so didn't get to see 11 through 16 at all. Then yesterday I was kind of -- on those holes I was kind of wondering where I was going a little bit. My caddie had been out there so I did have some information, but it wasn't as good as seeing it yourself. All and all I thought the course played a little bit easier yesterday than it did in the practice round and today was maybe even a little bit easier than it was yesterday, partly because I kept it in play a little better. I think that's the key every time if you can keep it in play as tough as the rough is, you have obviously a much better chance of surviving than you do any other way, I guess.
Q. John Jacobs and Gary McCord, they are friends and when they are yukking it up, can you tune them out; do you want to tune them out?
GIL MORGAN: It's kind of a relaxing to me, kind of takes your mind away from "I got this hard shot" or "hit a bad shot off the tee" walking off the fairway. I don't really think that bothers me too much. I am pretty business-at-hand type of guy, when I am out there playing, and then in between shots I don't mind talking about other things, doing other things. Some guys don't like to do that, I don't think. But I kind of like to get that breakaway from it for a minute. Then when it come back, refocus and try and get your -- your mind exactly what you need to do. Maybe takes a little pressure off you sometimes too if you totally concentrate all the time "what am I going to do on this shot," walking down the fairway, you get kind of upset. I think that increases your pressure load from that standpoint. So it was a nice break.
I don't mind. They are good to play with but you never know what is going to happen or what they are going to say, so you are always kind of keeps you off guard. JJ hit on -- let's see -- on the second hole he made birdie, I don't know how he did. He was standing on the tee and he hit it 40 yards left of the corner on the dogleg left there he said well, I am just trying to hit it on the green. Obviously you can't do that, but he started right out there, and so then he is underneath the trees, he hits in a little punch, most time you can't hit it solid, you hear it, click, like this, and bounce, rolls up there, rolls right by Mac's ball, comes down the hill four feet, that's all right. You don't expect that type of thing, so it's always -- kind of keeps you thinking well, anything can happen in this game and it usually does.
Q. Unless something happens here since we been in here looks like you will be leading going into the weekend of a major. What do you do mentally do in this situation?
GIL MORGAN: Gosh, I don't know. Not much to do. Just go back and relax and try to get geared up to go tomorrow. They are talking rain, talking some bad conditions maybe tomorrow. We're going to start early. It is going to be wet probably. Just my main goal is I am just going to have to keep it in play. If I can do that then I will play all right, I think. If I start getting out of sync putting it in the rough a lot, and everybody is going to suffer from that one, so that's my key at this point in time is just you know, off the tee I am trying to put it in play and then into the green just depend on where the pin location is and what -- how close it is to the edges or close to the back and I will just try to play a little bit more conservative and try to putt it out.
If I happen to get one like on the 6th hole today -- I was able to hit it up the fairway, I had 115 just about right for my pitching wedge, so I was able to aim it right at the hole on like the 4th hole, I had 200 to the pin. 4-iron tried to play out there a little left, try not to miss it in the bunker or on the wrong side. You are going to make some mistakes, everybody is. You just hope that when you do, you can recover from those either maybe catch a good lie or play it out safe enough and try to get it up-and-down hopefully make that putt when you need to.
Q. Birdie putt that you made you said it was about 40-footer on No. 2. How much break was involved?
GIL MORGAN: Five feet of break. It was. It kind of -- the greens bring the slopes -- they bring the slopes all the way out of the edge of the green so it -- it's got the most slope close to the edges and as you move into the center it gets kind of like a mountain range kind of comes down through there. There's a lot of those little putts. If you put the ball on the wrong side of the hole -- I just happen to putt it on the front of the green, I didn't hit quite enough club.
It was back into the wind and I just -- I felt like I wanted to hit one more club but it was so close to the back that I was afraid that if it went over the back the way they mow it slopes off, I would have a hard time getting the ball up-and-down, so just when ahead and hit the shorter club and then I felt like I was going to hit the putt. It was just a lucky putt. You try to read it the best you can hit it the right speed sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. Like JJ playing that same hole you would never expect him to hit it up there four feet from where he was, but that's what happens sometimes. Just keep plugging, sometimes it works out.
Q. That hole left-to-right?
GIL MORGAN: Right-to-left.
Q. The players this week have raved about this course. Why is it so good in terms of its of play?
GIL MORGAN: I think we're always excited about playing a good conditioned golf course for starters, and we anticipated it being this part of the country is really good for good golf courses, I think, plus being old-style design we get to play a lot of the new designs all through the air all the time. Here you realize when you step on the tee that you got to keep the ball in play and you just can't whale at it every time or you are going to end up in some bad situations. We don't get an opportunity to play some of the old great golf courses around the United States here and any time we have an opportunity to do that it's always a lot of fun. I look forward -- I never played Aronimink, so it was kind of neat to be able to come up here. I played Winged Foot once and just those golf courses we usually don't get very many opportunities except in major championships to participate in.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks very much for coming down, Gil.
by ASAP Sports